My son Scott, an eighth grader, is showing more and more signs of skepticism and critical thinking as he delves into the worlds of science and pseudoscience. When he was watching TV the other day, he scoffed at the commercials proclaiming that the "real" psychics -- who are also "certified" -- are with the group being advertised. Just call them anytime. Another day, Scott started asking about the ends of the universe and how long has the universe existed, what was out there before the Big Bang, etc. I told him -- briefly -- what was presently known about those issues, but his questioning sent me back to sources to refresh my knowledge. It also made me think about the ever shifting status of knowledge as science continues its quest for constant updates through testing. His questioning also reminded me that many others his age may not be as fortunate to be exposed to such knowledge.
As our cover story relates, the media often report uncritically on alleged paranormal occurrences, and that many of the reporters are insufficiently trained in science to be able to ask the right questions about these claims. Stephen Peterson's article is a reminder of the constant struggle critical thinkers face with media matters. It also says to me that the education of our young (the future thinkers and reporters) is as important as ever.
Starting with this issue, I have included a new column on "Sources" to help you keep up with some of the best references on particular topics. I hope you find them useful.
/s/ Bob Ladendorf